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New Jersey breaks ground for 9/11 memorial

From Phil Hirschkorn
The names of New Jersey residents killed in the attacks will be etched on two stainless steel walls.

• September 11: A memorial
September 11 attacks
New Jersey
Fred Schwartz

(CNN) -- Victims' relatives and public officials broke ground Friday on the site of a future memorial to nearly 700 New Jersey residents killed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The memorial will echo the design of the fallen 110-story twin towers of the World Trade Center.

Dubbed "Empty Sky," it will feature a pair of brushed stainless steel walls with the names of all the state's victims engraved on them randomly.

The walls will be 200 feet long, the width of each side of the towers. They will rise 30 feet, standing parallel to each other with a paved blue stone path between them.

Space for visitors to leave items will be at the base of each wall, and groves of dogwood trees will surround them. Two sections of recovered steel from the trade center are already placed in the north grove.

The memorial will be erected in Liberty State Park on the banks of the Hudson River, with a direct view across the river of Lower Manhattan, where the trade center stood.

"In this shadow of unconscionable strife and infamy, we come here today to shed light," said New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey. "We dedicate ourselves to this hallowed ground such that they may never be forgotten, and their lives may not have been given in vain."

Outside of New York, New Jersey lost more residents in the attack than any other state -- 674, according to government statistics.

In addition, one of the four planes hijacked on September 11, the San Francisco-bound United Flight 93, originated in Newark, with 18 New Jersey residents among the passengers and flight crew.

Family members took turns shoveling dirt. Some took a handful of earth with them. Construction is expected to take a year.

"It will be a place to come and remember our loved ones, and I am sure, a place where we will shed many tears," said Aileen Ryan Burton, a sister of John Ryan, 45, an equities trader killed on 9/11.

The winning design, chosen from among 320 entrants in June, is by architect Fred Schwartz, who was a runner-up with architect Rafael Vinoly in the competition to design a master plan for rebuilding the World Trade Center site.

"Like the World Trade Center, the stainless steel reflects the constantly changing light of day," Schwartz has said. "My design connects two communities forever linked by the river that unites them: New Jersey and Lower Manhattan."

The project is expected to cost around $7 million in privately raised and public funds.

"Empty Sky" is also the name of a song on the September 11-inspired 2002 album by New Jersey rock star Bruce Springsteen.

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